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Custard the Queen

His majesty the pastry cream

05 April 2022

Custard is made by controlled coagulation of egg yolks at 84°C. Containing no starch, the only ingredient that thickens the cream is the yolks. They begin to coagulate at a temperature of 65°C, but due to the presence of sugar, this temperature is raised to 85°C. 
Above 85°C, the yolks begin to coagulate, separating from the rest of the liquid components, resulting in a grainy effect of the custard. Therefore, the cooking of custard is delicate and must be done while remaining below the critical threshold of 85°C.

Cooking custard can be done in various ways, let's look at the most common ones:

  • Bain marie: this is the most delicate and safest but also the longest cooking process
  • Direct fire: a steel pan is recommended and the flame must be at a minimum;
  • Induction hob: cooking at 83°C is recommended with this cooking method;
  • Microwave: this is the easiest and safest method. Place the cream in the oven for 15-30 seconds, stirring and measuring the temperature at each step until the cooking temperature is reached.

Caution! After baking, the custard should be strained immediately into a fairly large container, covered with cling film and cooled quickly.

Let us now look at the ingredients and their characteristics:

  • Liquids: milk is the main liquid and must be fresh and whole. In addition to or instead of fresh cream, it generates a more structured and creamy custard due to its fat content (35%);
  • Sugar: preferably caster sugar should be used, avoiding icing sugar. Or, raw cane sugar to obtain a custard with a pleasant taste of treacle. Honey can also be used, although it is a liquid sweetener and should be used with creams with milk-cream;
  • Yolk: the more yolk I put in, the thicker the custard will be. The starting percentage is 12-15% of the total ingredients;
  • Salt: use very small amounts to enhance the taste of the ingredients;
  • Flavouring: generally use vanilla pods (1 stick per 1 litre of liquid) or finely grated lemon peel. 

We can flavour our custard with other flavours always based on 1 litre of liquid:

  • coffee beans 150g slightly crushed to infuse in boiling milk for 15 min;
  • chocolate 150g after cooking before cooling down 
  • liqueur 55-60g after cooking during the cooling phase

The custard and three different liquid bases: 
The milk base is very light with a soft density. It is suitable for bavarois, dessert sauces and mousses.
The milk-cream base is more consistent as we have seen above because the amount of fat is increased. It is suitable for tastier bavarois or chocolate-rich creams.
The cream base is very consistent and tasty because of the cream. It is used for fruit or butter creams.

RECIPE

100% MILK CUSTARD

500g fresh whole milk
125g yolk
125g caster sugar
½ vanilla pod
2g lemon peel
1g salt

CUSTARD 50-50 CREAM MILK

125g fresh whole milk
125g fresh cream
100g yolk
100g caster sugar
½ vanilla pod
2g lemon peel
1g salt

100% CREAM

500g fresh cream
100g yolk
75g caster sugar
½ vanilla pod
2g lemon peel
1g salt


PROCEDURE

Heat the liquid together with the vanilla and lemon peel to 85°C. Then beat the egg yolk with the sugar and salt.

When the liquid is hot, pour it into the yolk and cook gently at 84°C. Strain immediately into a container, cover in contact and quickly reduce the temperature.

Store in the fridge for 2-3 days.

ENJOY AND SEE YOU NEXT TIME!

Blog by Enrico Gumirato pastry chef and trainer